christinex1001: (Default)
See my icon? According to the buzz in the POD (print on demand) industry, that's a pretty good illustration of what Amazon is trying to do to independent POD publishers and self-published authors (like me!) who have used a service such as Lulu.com to get their books into print.

It's all long, complicated, and sordid (what isn't these days?), but the basics for the tl;dr crowd are this: A few years ago, Amazon purchased its own POD company called BookSurge, which it's been heavily promoting. I looked at BookSurge's offerings and wasn't impressed -- the packages are very expensive, even for someone like me who can deliver a complete press-ready pdf and who doesn't require the services of a copy editor or graphic designer. IIRC, it would have been more than double what my Lulu global distribution package cost (the package included the ISBN and inclusion in Books in Print and Ingram's catalog). Anyhow, now apparently Amazon is trying to pull a Microsoft-style muscle game and is saying that it will only offer POD books that are printed through BookSurge. Otherwise, you'll only be able to get them through third-party (Marketplace) sellers. It looks as if they've already done this to PublishAmerica books (PublishAmerica is a racket, and normally I wouldn't give the company any sympathy, but it sure sucks for its authors) and books from at least one smaller independent POD publisher. If you want the whole story, go here.

I freaked and went and checked out No Return's listing on Amazon, and it's still intact (and they've cut the price by a few bucks, which is nice)...but for how long? There's been no official word from management at Lulu, mainly because I guess the fewmets hit the fan late on a Friday afternoon after the brass had all gone out for their weekly golf game/martini run.

This is scary, not just in its implications for small presses who use POD technology and self-published authors like me, but for anyone who cares about the trend in this country for the big corporations to go trampling all over anti-trust laws and the concept of a free market economy. I've always been a loyal Amazon customer, but if they truly intend to go through with this, I will of course take my business elsewhere. After all, B&N offers free shipping on orders over $25 (and they finally got the pricing on NR straightened out so it matches the Amazon price), so what incentive do I have to stick with Amazon? I don't enjoy getting screwed in the butt in my private life -- what makes them think I'd enjoy it in a business relationship?

More to come as things develop....
christinex1001: (Default)
I've discovered a fun game. It's called "How Many?" As in, "how many shots of apple schnapps can Joy drink before she gets really, really drunk?"

So far I'm up to six, and I'm barely tipsy. Marian Ravenwood would be proud.

(For the record, this is REAL German schnapps, the yummy Schönauer apfel kind, not that DeKuyper crap you can buy at the supermarket. Just thought I should clear that up.)

Of course no check from Mercury. Left a semi-polite message, but I'm sure those assholes won't call me back. I would have maintained, except I got this little gem in my inbox today, which sort of put the capper on the sucking maw of hell that my life has been lately:

Dear Lulu Distribution Owner,

With the growing number of Lulu titles entering the retail channels, we've discovered we are causing our customers serious confusion. Over time, many Lulu authors have their book listed in the Lulu Marketplace at a price that is lower than their retail price. Customers simply don't understand why a book would be priced differently in different places.

Furthermore, as Lulu continues to expand on an international scale, markets such as the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany, require a fixed price by law. While we'll leave the political debates for another time, the purpose of these consumer protection laws is to avoid the confusion we've been seeing. Customers wonder if the book they are looking at on a book retailing site is the same one as the one they see on Lulu, when the price is so different.

To ensure Lulu Marketplace and retail prices are consistent, we are making the following changes, effective immediately.

Any title you have that is currently in retail distribution via Published by You or Published by Lulu will be temporarily removed from the Lulu Marketplace, and the price of that title will be set to match the retail price you've already set for distribution. All we ask is that you click the link below to make your book available again in the Lulu Marketplace--this time at a price that matches your retail price. By doing so we'll be working together to communicate clearly and consistently to your readers and customers, regardless of where they may be.

The great news from this change is you'll benefit significantly from the higher royalty resulting from this upward price adjustment of your book in the Lulu marketplace. As an example, let's consider a book that was priced at $19.99 for Lulu distribution, but has been listed in the Lulu Marketplace at a lower price.

*Before:*
Published by Lulu distribution price: $19.99 (royalty $4.75)
Lulu Marketplace price: $15.95 (royalty $7.09)

*After:*
Published by Lulu distribution price: $19.99 (royalty $4.75)
Lulu Marketplace price: $19.99 (royalty is now $10.32)

Notice the higher royalty that you'll now earn every time your book sells in the Lulu Marketplace.

That's the gist of it. Just click the following link to make your title available again in the Lulu Marketplace:

(link removed)

This link will take you to a page where you'll see that your Lulu Marketplace content has been repriced and is waiting to be made "available" again. Keep in mind that your retail distribution status has not been affected with this change, only your Lulu Marketplace listing.

In a few weeks Lulu will be making changes to the distribution and publishing processes that will automatically set prices in both the Lulu Marketplace and retail channels. We will also introduce a pricing calculator to make retail pricing decisions easier. Finally, we will be introducing attractive shipping options for your buyers made possible by these higher Lulu marketplace prices and the resulting increase in royalties.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reply to this message or email retailprice@lulu.com and ask for assistance.

Henry

~~~~~
Upshot? My book will now be overpriced everywhere, not just on Amazon. And as the final coup de grace, it's not even available through the Lulu Marketplace until I "approve" the new price. Approve my fluffy white ass, more like it. Also, do they think we're morons? What good is a higher royalty if no one buys the book because it's been completely overpriced??

I fired off an extremely angry e-mail, but I'm sure nothing will come of it. I'm waiting for the universe to prove my pessimism is unfounded. (I'm also wondering what the limit is on disputing credit card transactions . I'd love to rescind that transaction and have them eat the hundred bucks I spent for their fucking distribution plan.)

I went and looked at a very pretty car today on my home. I'm sure it will be gone by the time the people at Mercury get their thumbs out of their asses and send me my money.

Obviously I haven't drunk enough, because there aren't nearly enough typos in this post.
christinex1001: (Default)
OK, so I've got this mostly straightened out (I think).

No Return is now available directly through Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/content/553437

It probably won't be available through Amazon or B&N or other online retailers until about a month from now, since it takes time for these things to get into the pipeline. Also, because I did have to make some corrections after I got my first proof, I had to order ANOTHER proof (God, this is such a racket), and I can't give final approval until I receive it and look at it (which should be this Friday if they follow the same timeline they did w/the first proof). Frankly, at this point, unless I find a massive typo (which I doubt, since I only caught two in the whole book, and those have been fixed), I'm going to approve it. After a while you just have to let things go. Once it's approved it will be in Books in Print, and from there go on to the online retailers.

Unless you just have to have it now for Christmas or whatnot, I'd suggest waiting, since lulu's shipping is kind of expensive (and although trying to figure out the whole "retail pricing" versus "lulu pricing" versus online retailers' ACTUAL pricing made my head want to explode, as far as I can tell, it will probably be a few bucks cheaper once it finally shows up on Amazon et al.). I gave myself a fairly small royalty ($5 per book), but I refused to go any lower than that; writing a 108K-word novel takes some effort, and I designed the whole thing and did all the typesetting myself as well. I think that comes out to something like .00005 cents an hour by the time I'm done. ;-)

Anyway, just wanted to let everyone know, since some people did ask when it would be available.

Oh, and we got our Christmas tree yesterday. We wanted to take advantage of weather that actually felt like winter before SoCal betrayed us again. We had mulled wine whilst decorating it. Yummy.
christinex1001: (Default)
I was just thinking about all the things I've written over the past few years (and the stuff I still have ongoing), and it seems as if a lot of the time I hear a song and it just seems to fit whatever's going on in the story. Do you guys do that? So if someone made a movie out of my various fics and original works, these are the songs I'd like to play over the closing credits (this is in no particular order, BTW...and for some of my stuff I haven't really heard anything that fits):

No Return: Bring Me to Life (Evanescence)
Sympathy for the Devil: Like a Prayer (Madonna...ha-ha)
The Overlooked: Love Song (the Cure)
Absolution: I Will Remember You Still (I don't know the artist...it's off the Mists of Avalon soundtrack)
Only Eyes to See: Heaven's a Lie (Lacuna Coil)
Blood and Ashes: Heartache (Gene Loves Jezebel)

No Return update: I went ahead and bought the global distribution package off Lulu and ordered an approval copy, but it won't be completely ready until I receive the book and upload the final interior pdf (if nothing else, I have to correct the copyright page to add the ISBN they assigned me). It SHOULD be in my hands in about a week, so I think it will make it in just under the wire for Christmas ordering. I'm just letting everyone know because a couple people expressed interest in purchasing a copy. If you don't care about having it for Christmas, you might want to wait until it's available through Amazon, just because their shipping is cheaper than buying direct from Lulu. At any rate, I'll keep posting updates here as it moves through the pipeline.

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September 2010

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